FAQ for both Crown & Lawn Bowls
Crown Green Bowls
Question. Are wooden bowls still used?
Answer. Wooden bowls, which are made from the timber Lignum
Vitae, are still used and are very popular. It is now
difficult to obtain good quality Lignum to make new bowls but
Thurston do still have a small stock of timber from which to make
their Standfast Crown Green bowls (see B2200). Thurston's
renovate many pairs of wooden bowls mainly during the closed season
( see section 1 for renovation services) and are recognised by many
as the leaders in the field.
Question. Can I have my wooden bowls polished natural.
Answer. Yes, any wooden bowls can be polished natural.
It should however be remembered that all Lignum Vitae (wooden)
bowls have cracks and the clear, specially formulated lacquer
applied shows up all the imperfections so if the Lignum is poor or
contains sapwood it is sometimes more sensible to have the bowls
Question. What size of bowls are available and which is most
suited for my use?
Answer. Crown green bowls have always been sold by weight as
the size designation. The popular weights being 2lb 6oz, 2lb
8oz, 2lb 10oz and 2lb 12oz. It seems that with the Lignum
Vitae, (wooden) bowls the bowlers were more interested in the
weight and it is was certainly true that in earlier years the
heavier the bowl that one could handle was always considered to the
best bowl for the job. Modern Crown Green bowls are made from
a composite material which is so hard diamond tools have to used to
turn the material. Thurston's stock a range of bowls from 2lb
4oz to 2lb 12oz in even weight steps, odd weights such as 2lb 9oz,
2lb 11oz, etc can be supplied to order. Also for children we
have in stock 2lb and 2lb 2oz bowls.
Question. I have heard of Hi-density bowls, what are they
Answer. Material now used for bowls is a phenolic thermoset
composition. This can be produced to a specific density,
unlike Lignum Vitae (wooden) bowls where the density depends on the
actual original timber. Manufacturers using the composition
material such as Drakes Pride and Taylor have extended their
standard composition weight range of crown green bowls to include
both hi-density and also low density models.
Question. Can you explain what advantages high density or
standard or low density have compared to each other ?
Answer. This requires quite a long answer and must include a
reference again to Lignum Vitae (wooden) bowls as well. It is
said that a Lignum (wooden) bowl runs on a "yard" after it is
stopped. What is being implied is that when comparing the run
of a wooden bowl against the original, now called standard weight
composition, it is true that for a given strength of delivery the
composition bowl will stop about a yard shorter than the Lignum
(wooden) bowl. The reason is simply that the standard weight
composition bowl is slightly heavier for its size than the average
What the manufacturers have done is to take a slightly higher
specific gravity composition material and produce a bowl which is
heavier for its size than a standard composition. For example
a high density 2lb 8oz bowl is about the same size as a 2lb 6oz
standard weight. High density bowls are useful on very fast greens
which usually occur after a period of dry weather or especially
after dry and hot days. The other advantage is that if a
bowler suffers from a hand problem and they are having difficulty
gripping the larger bowl, but still want to maintain the weight,
then the hi-density allows them to come down a size but maintain
On the other hand a low-density composition bowl, made from
slightly lighter material than the standard weight and is more
similar to Lignum (wooden) bowls in its density is better suited to
heavier greens, such as early season or rain effected or "heavy"
greens. The reason being that as they are lighter they "ride"
the surface more easily and therefore run further. A 2lb 8oz
low-density bowl will be approximately the same size as a 2lb
10oz standard composition bowl. It is also useful for
low-density bowls to be polished as this helps to feel more like a
wooden bowl. Thurston's stock the Excel model by Drakes Pride
(see B2222) which is a low density, polished bowl. Also, made
to order "Harlequin" coloured bowls available in 5 colours(see
At the Liverpool Thurston stores there are examples of the
different weights and densities of crown green bowls so you can try
them in the hand for size and feel.
Question. What size bowl do I need ?
Answer. Bearing in mind the answer to the previous
question. The simple answer is what feels comfortable in your
hand. Remember that you have to be able to hold the bowl even
in wet conditions. IF the bowl feels right, then it is
probably the right size and if it doesn't feel "right" then this
will be in your mind when you are playing your shots.
Question. Do I need a jack?
Answer. If you are wanting to practice or just play
socially, then the answer is definitely yes. But if you only
play at the club with other club members then it is usual for the
club to supply the jacks as they do for matches and then you would
not need one. The crown green standard jacks are available
from Thurston's in both the traditional Black and the popular
Yellow versions (see B2000 & B2030) or use a practice jack, 2
full bias see item B2060 .
Question. What bias should I use ?
Answer. Some years ago you used to be able to tell what area
a bowler came from by the bias they requested, but in more recent
years the standard bias of 2 full has proved to be dominant.
This is the same bias as the standard jacks which most clubs
have. Other biases that are available to special order are 2
¼ bias which is slightly stronger than the 2 full and also 2 ½ bias
which is stronger than the 2 ¼.
Question. My friends bowls have no dimple, are they
Answer. Most crown green bowlers prefer to have the dimple
in the bias side but some keen bowlers who do not want their
opponent to see how they have delivered the bowl sometime opt to
have no dimple and occasionally mark the bias side with just a
Question. My recently polished bowls are showing pin prick
marks is the polish faulty?
Answer. Probably not, the usual reason for such marks, which tend
to be seen at the start of the season, is the fertiliser and top
dressing applied to the greens. Granular fertiliser and top
dressing can break through the polish causing blemishes. In most
cases top dressing contains 70% sand and this creates an abrasive
surface early in the season. Chemical fertilisers can break down
the adhesion of the polish on the bowls so it might start to come
Question. Our Clubs Standard Jacks have been three stamps on. Can
they be re-tested?
Answer. The B.C.G.B.A. States ' Jacks (Standard) are not to be
stamped on more than four occasions. The first three, in date order
to be made on the bias side. So a Standard jack with three
date stamps can be re-tested and providing meets the regulations
can be re-stamped for the four & final time with the stamp on
the non bias side.
Lawn - Flat Green Bowls
Question. I have a set of Lignum Vitae
(wooden) bowls can they be re-stamped ?
Answer. World Bowls have tightened up their
regulations and it is now unlikely that Lignum bowls will conform
to those regulations. However the bowls can still be
renovated and used in social games despite not being stamped.
Question. The date stamp on my bowls has
expired, do I really need them to be re-tested ?
Answer. The World Bowls 'stamp' and its
predecessor World Bowls Board 'stamp' have a ten year life, which
includes the year of its test. So basically by their
regulations the answer is, yes it should be re-tested. The
main reason for doing the re-test is that part of the work done
checks that the set is still running as a set. After all given ten
years of wear and tear the bowls must have suffered abrasion and
knocks. So it is in your interest to have them checked
Question. My bowls have no emblems, are
Answer. This question basically only
relates to sets sold in the UK prior to 1996, when emblems were not
required in the UK. Even now it depends on what level you are
playing at to know if emblems/engraving is required for play in the
UK. This needs to be considered and advised to the tester
when you submit your bowls for test. Currently (2009) the World
Bowls Ltd. testers licence states ' Bowls may display- Engravings
(emblems)'. However, the manufacturers licence requires all
sets to have engraving (emblems), so all new sets of bowls will
For club and even inter club competitions bowls without emblems
are ok. If however the competition is under the auspices of World
Bowls Ltd. or the Professional Bowlers Association the you
will find that sets of bowls must have emblems. So to be safe it is
probably best to have emblems/engraving.
THURSTON can engrave emblems on to most makes of bowl and would
suggest that this work is carried out at the same time as the set
Question. I've decided to have engraving on
my bowls, can I have my initials and an emblem?
Answer. The answer is yes, but with
reservation. As long as the initials are all on the same side eg.
on the bias side and the emblem on the non bias side. Then the
sets, basically, conforms to World Bowls Ltd. regulations and will
be acceptable in the UK. Most other counties require that the
emblem would be the same, but proportional in size, on the bias and
flat side of the bowls.
THURSTON recommend that the emblems/engraving be the same on both
sides which avoids any possible future problems.
Question. I play outdoors what weight of
bowl should I use?
Answer. If you only play outdoors and play
in the U.K., then a medium weight bowl is probably the best.
The reason being that most U.K. outdoor greens are slow / heavy and
a medium weight bowl will have some chance to show its bias.
If you were to use an Indoor style and or heavyweight model the
slow / heavy greens will kill the bias before it has a chance to
Question. I play both Indoor and Outdoor do
I really need to different sets of bowls ?
Answer. The previous answer has some
bearing on this one. However there are some models of bowl
(eg Professional by Drakes Pride) that have medium bias and many
bowlers find they perform acceptably both on outdoor and indoor
greens. Most manufacturers do however produce models suited
to either outdoor or indoor use. Note. If outdoor model
bowls are used indoor they will tend to run into the next rink and
so you might not be able to play certain hands. If indoor
models are used outdoor they will show little or no bias and reduce
the game to playing up the middle. Perhaps this is what
causes complaints about bias strength?
Question. What size of bowls should I
Answer. The 'old' idea was to use the
largest size you possibly could, or that if you can span the
circumference of the running sole with your two hands then that
size would be right.
However the simple answer is whatever size feels comfortable in
the hand. So when selecting a set of bowls try a few sets. Perhaps
start with a size 3 try a few 'pretend' deliveries. Does it cause
any strain to your wrist? Does it feel that you need to adjust
/tighten you grip in the back swing? Does out fall out of your
hand!? If it all feels ok then perhaps try a size 4 or even
larger, but if there is discomfort go down the sizes until you are
Also there are some models' which are not as broad, such as the
Drakes Pride Professional model. Such models might allow you to use
a bigger bowl comfortably, so also try a few types of bowl in a
size if you can.
Question. I have two sets of the same make
and model of bowl one set is red the other is green. I am told they
are the same bias but I find they take a different line - whose is
Answer . Speak to any of the top bowlers and they
will agree that the different coloured sets perform differently and
yet when seen on the bowls test table they run the same. The only
answer that seems to have any merit is that subtle but significant
differences in how the player grips the bowl and thus how they
deliver. Are probably caused by affect that the different
colour dyes used in the powder mix used for moulding bowls has on
the final surface finish.
Question. My set of size 4 heavy bowls weigh more
than my friends set, why is their a difference?
Answer. We assume that the sets are different
models or are from different manufactures. As each manufacturer
uses the specific gravity of moulding powder that they favour for
their quality. So there are likely to be weight differences between
different manufactures sets. Also there is likely to be differences
between models as there are some that are slim line, so slightly
less material, and some which 'fill the hand', which will have a
little more material. So between different models from the
same manufacturer there will be different weighs, even if both are
marked up as 'heavy', for the same size bowl. The weight chart
shown below should therefore be used as a rough guide only.
Question. It looks like they have painted the
grips on their bowls, surely this effects the bais and is it
Answer. Law 8.6 deals with alterations to bias of
bowls which is illegal and has sever penalties. However point 4
states .. Players or owners who colour the groove rings or dimples
on a bowl for decoration are not breaking the law.
This size/weight table is an approximate guide to weights and
sizes of lawn bowls, each manufacturer and each model will be
somewhat different. These figures are only for guidance and are an
average across a range of models & makes.